Tag Archives: loudspeakers

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Getting too close

One of our readers emailed me asking about proximity to his loudspeakers. It was an interesting question. “As I move around the room I find the sweet spot to be 2 feet in front of my 8 foot separated speakers. Am I too close?”

First, let me say I admire the heck out of anyone who gets off their duffs and moves around the room looking for the sweet spot. This is commendable on a number of levels but mostly because few of us actively hunt for what’s going on. We might move our chair a few inches forward and backward but rarely do we stray too far from the prescribed triangular vector.

What’s happening when he gets too close, of course, is removing the room from the listening experience. Like headphones, getting in the speaker’s direct line of fire will almost always give you results very unlike sitting in the traditional vector.

But, what’s the value in this? Now that he knows what is possible he has a reference. A guideline. A goal. Something to go back to whenever needed to reset expectations. That goes a long way towards success.

Next steps? Now that he’s identified nearfield listening is working for him, time to think about room treatment.

More important is recognizing the benefits of thinking differently.

Stepping outside our comfort zone can have massively beneficial advantages if we’re willing to move away from centerline thinking.

It doesn’t hurt to step outside the lines because you can always hop back into center place.


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Maybe boring, but I have several tracks I use to set stereo’s up. Some are for tone…Some are for dynamics…Some are for bass and some are for stereo imaging.

One of the biggest mistakes people at shows make, although becoming more rare, are stereo’s that use components that haven’t been used together, especially loudspeakers, audio components that are new and not broken in,  or systems that don’t use the right music for set up.

Simple and natural

There are literally millions of tracks we can use to evaluate our stereo system setups, yet most wouldn’t be of much help. Without some form of acoustic reference material, it’s nearly impossible to know when it is right or wrong. What’s the proper sound of a fuzz tone guitar? Unless you had attended a Jimmy Hendrix concert in your youth (and had a perfect memory), you’d be hard pressed to know if a modern system rendered his guitar properly.

Whenever I start to set up a system I do my best to keep my source material simple and natural: a familiar voice, an acoustic instrument I know well. The more familiar I am with the piece, the easier it is to know when I’ve nailed the tonal balance, imaging, and dynamics.

What’s wonderful is we don’t need to use the same tracks all the time. As long as we stick to the principles of simple, natural, and familiar, just about any track works equally well.

Perhaps the biggest mistake I see people making when setting up systems is the use of big, complex, unfamiliar music or, worse, electronic music without any known reference.

When setting up, always go back to basics.